First Days at Saito Birth HouseOn Saturday, June 2nd 2012 we arrived in Kanagawa-ken, and were picked up at the train station by Imoto Sonoe-san. She asked Lukas to call her "Sony," so from here on out, that's what I'll call her. The deal is, I can attend births with Sony, a midwife doing "birth house" and homebirth, and with Saito Birth House, which also does both, although home birth is much less common in all 3 practices I have learned from so far.
The ride to Saito Birth House was long and circuitous. "I'll show you the way from my house (also her birthing house) to my client's house, and then to Saito Birth House, okay?" Of course! How wonderful!! I get to "start" right off the train. I love midwives. Just jump right in!
We went first to the due-any-time client's house. This mama wanted to have her baby in the next 48 hours, as her huband is only home every other week for about 36 hours. This being her fourth child, we had our hopes up for her. She was so cute, and looked like she could "go any minute." Lukas and I said hello, Sony checked in with her, she said I could come to her birth, and off we went.
I don't know how long it took to get to Saito's Birth House from there, but I was supposed to look at every corner and make notes about how to get from each place to the next. Let's just say- it took me 40 minutes to get to the birth and an hour and a half to get home. I got lost about 47 times in broad daylight coming back. The road curves and changes like none I've ever seen. Lukas later showed me that, instead of following the buildings, I could just follow the route numbers posted on giant blue road signs. (sigh.)
We met Mrs. and Mr. Saito (who asked us to call him Ojichan, or uncle, which can quickly be made into "Gramps" by slightly elongating the "i" to Ojiichan- making the term no longer cute but slightly irritating I discovered...) that evening. We were ushered to our new little home (their large old birth house/ home), which is cute as a paper-windowed house in the countryside and has the new-grass-mat smell of freshly laid tatami. Lukas and I have a cozy room with a tiny kitchen, tatami flooring and futons. It is an absolute miracle of a room. Simple and easy and perfect for a 1-2 month stay. (I will miss him in JULY!!!)
Mrs Saito made dinner for us that night. And has offered to feed us every meal since then. Her food is extraordinarily wonderful, plentiful, and seemingly effortless. Last night we joined her and another midwife, "Kuma-chan," for a 4-person party and really laughed our share of sake down. I could do this because yesterday I attended my first birth, so I was mostly off the hook for driving. (I can't believe its only been 3 days of experience in the Birth House.) (Being off-call is really a treat.)
The birth happened 20 minutes before I arrived, and 5 minutes after Sony arrived. The simplicity was profound to me. The atmosphere, with the tatami, the quick newborn exam, the quick placenta exam and display to mom, and the quick clean-up, and basically done in under an hour after I arrived was really amazing.
The last 3 days, I have been to one immediate postpartum (ahem), several prenatals, 3 breast massage sessions, 2 post-partums (a "12 hour" and a 4 week) and I have learned much more than I can share here and now. Today I got to hold a Down Syndrome baby, and, separately, got to share Andrea's technique of hanging the babies and Debra Bochinski's "sitting with intention," technique with 2 moms. Both were big hits with moms.
|Kayti with Saito-san and Mr Saito in front of Saito Birth House|
There are 9 midwives and one massage + acupuncturist (plus Mr and Mrs Saito) working at Saito Birth House. I've seen as many as 5 midwives on shift at a time. They are doing various tasks in the morning including prenatals, post-partums, breast-massage, answering the phone, sitting with potential clients, doing dishes, laundry or serving tea. The massage/ acupuncture lady is also quite busy. The overall effect is one of joy, comraderie, with a lot of laughter and a lightness of heart. The clients come in, and whichever midwife has her hands free attends to their appointment. A mother sits, first, at the long table in the kitchen, often among the other clients, while the midwife reviews her chart and they review together the information either of them needs. Then, in a prenatal, they proceed upstairs to the Ultrasound room, and there is an Ultrasound looking for a healthy heart, the position of the baby, and the placenta. This is followed by Doppler Heart count, followed by exercises downstairs in a roomier room. Finally, they return to the big table and review what Mom's next appointment entails. Sometimes the next appointment is the regularly scheduled visit to the Hospital OB, sometimes a positions prenatal, sometimes a regular prenatal.
|Reviewing Ultrasound Results|
|You can see our house behind the field. It is a 5 minute walk to the Birth House.|
|Morning at Saito Birth House|
|Born on the same day in May|
|My first baby here|